They are a rage all over India right now. Go to weddings, parties or any other family events. You’ll see everyone dancing to them. The latkas, the jhatkas and the suggestive lyrics.
Surprisingly for a society which is prude, where women are an indicator of the izzat of a family, where sex is a dirty secret, it is ironic to see men and women dancing to songs which reduce women to objects. Of songs which are a sum of their breasts and butts. Of their sexual availability. Of the sexual prowess of a man. Of a man owning a woman in any way he wants.
And in a case of chicken or the egg, the creators of popular culture say they are a mirror to the society while the society says that popular culture is distorting the old value system. Whatever may be the case, it’s the women who are caught in the crossfire.
An average Indian male who has grown up on a diet of bollywood and pop culture thinks it’s his birthright to pass comments on a woman, sing dubious songs, leer and touch her. In some twisted interpretation of how bollywood heroes always get the girl by these acts, these impressionable men assume the same would hold true in real life too.
At the same time, there are very few references to strong, independent women who might feel offended at such behaviour. There are almost no cultural connects between an urban Indian woman of today with the mainstream cinema or television soaps. There are almost no pop culture or bollywood indicators for most men to draw references that this behaviour is unacceptable. And therein lies the problem.
As women become more visible, negotiating in the public space, challenging them, it leaves men to grapple with changing equations. There’s an interesting project called No Country For Women which throws light on the issue.
But coming back to the point, I detest objectification of women as a sign of progress.
Progress comes with equality and safety of women. And I absolutely cannot understand why sexually explicit lyrics and women in titillating outfits are needed to sell cinema. More than the sexual liberation of the women, it takes the cause back decades.
And that’s why I refuse to dance to item songs.